Last modified: October 18, 2018

Fishing Piers Southern California

Santa Monica Pier

Sharks and rays like squid, fished out from the pier. Bottom rigs or sliders will work. Leopards, shovelnose and others are seen from time to time. I’ve seen soupfin sharks caught out there as well. You can also use live bait, like anchovies, herring or sardines if you catch them.

If you get bored and have a light rod, rig up a Carolina rig with a strip of squid and cast out and retrieve. Something will go after it. You can also use grubs and do a little surf fishing down towards the amusement park. Fish in the surf, behind the breakers.

Catching bait will require a light rod and a small Sabiki rig. I like the ones with a rainbow reflection. The straight white ones don’t work as well. Wallmart, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s and Boating World on Lincoln sell these. If you really get stuck, I can get them here in Bakersfield and can mail them to you. It’s easy to spend 4 hours catching more bait than you can imagine. Ask Sinker about ‘chovies at Ventura…

Crabbing is another hot item, and April-May are killer for spiders. Use chicken legs and thighs, which can be had for $4 at Vons and other markets. Tie 3-4 pieces into your nets and drop them in the corners. Be careful if the water is moving a lot. One, the crabs will not be there, and Two, the nets will get snagged and you’ll loose them. I pulled 30 spiders in one day there, and brought home 6 for about 30-35 lbs of crab. Big males show up from time to time and they go up to 18lbs+. Bring an Igloo cooler and keep the water fresh.

A few words of warning. The Harbor Patrol from time to time will check that regs. are being followed. Don’t cast overhead if you can avoid it. And keep an eye on your stuff, since the people count on a summer weekend can hit 100,000 or more. Always fish with someone else out there. SM is a really bad town to get a ticket in, since you will pay the max fine for anything. Also, make sure you don’t bug the people selling stuff or performing. Chances are you’ll be asked to leave. The wind is also a factor out there. Fishing close to the buildings will cut a lot of it down, making fishing more enjoyable. It will also come up and die down around sunset.

Hope this helps. I’ve posted cooking suggestions before for spider crab in case you get one and don’t know what to do. Feel free to ask any other questions as well. And, if you see Mike Bikehead on the pier, tell him Kel, Cindy and Carrie Cruise say hi.

Kel, Transplanted Pier Rat in Bakersfield, CA

Fathers and kids: Fishing derby nets 40

 The steady crashing of the waves below, the plaintive cry of the sea gulls overhead. The young man looked out to the sea, the morning sun lighting his eyes, the wind brushing against his face. He took it all in silently before looking up to the old man.

“Are you going to catch a shark, daddy?” he asked. When you’re a 5-year-old, there isn’t anything your dad doesn’t know, so on his very first fishing expedition, Blake Condon had plenty of questions for his father Sunday morning as they bent over the ledge of the Santa Monica Pier, poles in hand. “How do we catch it?,” he asked. “You have to have patience,” said his dad, David Condon. “How do they stick?” he wondered, looking at the bait on the hook. “The fish will eat it, just like in the cartoons,” said dad. Condon and his two sons, Blake and his 8-year-old, Zachary, came to the pier Sunday for the third annual Father’s Day Fishing Derby, put on by Santa Monica Pier Bait and Tackle.

About 40 people showed up for the daylong event that gave prizes for the biggest fish caught and released and the most fish caught.

“It’s a nice experience to come out and not spend the day flicking the TV,” said Chris Volaski, co-owner of the bait shop. “It’s a nice way to spend quality time with dad on Father’s Day.” Her husband, Yosh Volaski, has been fishing on the pier since 1961. “I get a kick out of teaching someone how to pick up a fish,” he said. “Someone taught me and I’d like to return that.”

The art of fishing is the kind of thing fathers have been passing down to their children forever, but Condon had no idea what he was doing and basically was faking his way through it. “I watch everybody else and try not to screw up,” said the 39-year-old real estate broker. “I wanted the kids to experience fishing. I used to fish with my grandfather. It’s a memory the kids will have.”

Mannie Mendelson, co-owner of the small tackle shop at the end of the pier, said fishing is a good way to teach young ones responsibility and respect for nature. “We encourage them to return the fish to the water,” he said. “Our biggest prize is for catch and release.”

Manuel Lopez brought his family, including his daughter Dayanara from Las Vegas, to fish at the pier. “I like to spend time with my family,” he said. “This is nice. I hope the kids enjoy it.”…

Condon never did catch his shark, but Zachary managed to snag a croaker that would hardly have fit onto a Ritz cracker. But once he caught it, he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. When Mendelson tried to get the brothers to hold up their catch for a picture, the boys squealed, squirmed and could barely be coaxed too touch it. “I like to catch it, but not eat it,” Zachary said. “My grandmother throws them back ’cause she don’t like to kill fish, but I like to kill them.” However, after having a change of heart, he decided to toss it back into the water.

—Josh Grossberg, The Santa Monica Outlook, June 16, 1997

Did You Know? That the Santa Monica Pier is probably the number one pier to appear in movies, television shows and commercials? A partial list includes—Quicksand; Pitfall; Fallen Angel; Mildred Pierce (sound stage re-creation of the Santa Monica Pier); The Big Sleep (same stage for a fog-covered Lido Pier); Night Tide; The Son of Kong (1933); Quicksand (1950); The Glenn Miller Story (1953); Inside Daisy Clover (1965); They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (1969); The Sting (1973); Crime & Punishment; USA; Cursed; Elmer Gantry; Crazy/Beautiful; The End of Violence; Blood Beach; Funny Girl (1968); Cannonball Run (1976); Walk Proud (1979); Hot Moves (1985); Nomads (1986); Ruthless People (1986); Miracle Mile (1988); Rescue Me (1993); Beverly Hills Cop III (1994); Clean Slate (1994); Down and Out In Beverly Hills: Forrest Gump (1994); The Net (1995); Species (1995); Day of the Warrior (1996); The End of Violence (1997); Titanic (1997); The Majestic (2001); Abby Singer (2003); Cellular (2004); First Daughter (2004); Thank You for Smoking (2005); Intoxicated Demons (2005); Sueño (2005); Main Street (2005); A Coat of Snow (2006); The Pet (2006); Three Words and a Star (2006); Hannah Montana: The Movie (2008) and My Sister’s Keeper (2009).

Two of the most famous scenes featuring the pier in movies were in Forrest Gump and Titanic. In Forrest Gump, Forrest runs to the West Coast (and the Santa Monica Pier), turns around, and heads back east. In Titanic, Rose (Kate Winslet), now elderly, is seen standing on the deck of the salvage ship that has discovered the RMS Titanic in its north Atlantic grave. She takes out the “Heart of the Ocean,” the large blue diamond necklace that she had received the night of the sinking, and tosses it into the sea where her lover Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) had died. Back in her room we see pictures from her life including a picture of her riding a horse at the Santa Monica Pier with the pier’s roller coaster in the background. The horse ride and coaster were destinations and activities that she and Jack had discussed.

The pier is also popular for TV: Victim of Love (1991 TV); Charlie’s Angels (TV); Marcus Welby, M.D (TV); Bay Watch (TV); Pacific Blue (TV); Gilmore Girls (TV); Murder, She Wrote (TV); The Cinnamon Cinder Show (1963 TV Series); If I Had a Million (1973 TV); Three’s Company (1977 TV); Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story (1993 TV); Comedy: Coast to Coast (1994 TV); Star Trek: Voyager (1995: Future’s End: Part 1 TV); The Amazing Race 2001 TV); The Five People You Meet in Heaven (2004 TV); The L Word (2004 TV); Amy Coyne (2006 TV).

Last but not least, the pier has shown up in some video games including Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland and Vampire: Bloodlines.

And—there are probably more of which I am unaware.

“A certain kind of ‘pier noir’ look emerged in Hollywood crime melodramas (such as Quicksand, Pitfall, and Fallen Angel), where the pier represented a seedy seaside haunt for desperate characters.”

Harry Medved with Bruce Akiyama, Hollywood Escapes, 2006

Did You Know? That there is a drink named the Santa Monica Pier? The recipe is simple—6 oz Alize® liqueur and 2 oz triple sec. In a tall glass with ice, pour the Alize and Triple Sec, stir and enjoy.

Did You Know? That the man who had the lease for the Sportfishing operations on the pier in the ‘30s, Norwegian Captain Olaf C. Olsen, may have been the inspiration for the “Popeye” cartoon character? So claim some sources. Popeye’s creator, Elzie Crisler Segar, loved fishing and when his Thimble Theatre cartoon (with Olive Oyl and Harold Hamgravy) proved successful he moved to California settling into a house near the Santa Monica Pier. In 1929 he added Popeye to his group of characters and the rest is history. It isn’t clear whom Bluto and J. Wellington Wimpy represented.

Did You Know? The original “Hot Dog on a Stick” opened in 1946 on a sidewalk just south of the pier near what used to be Muscle Beach?

Did You Know? That folk star Joan Baez once lived in the Hippodrome above the Carousel on the pier? When she returned to pier in February 2009 she related how her and her friends would often as not sleep in beanbag chairs.

Did You Know? That Art Alexakis, the lead singer for Everclear, says he tried to commit suicide as a teenager by getting high on marijuana, filling his pockets with weights, and jumping off the Santa Monica Pier? He now claims the vision and voice of his deceased brother George led to his survival.

Did You Know? That Cirque du Soleil first played the Santa Monica Pier in 1987? That year they pitched a tent and commenced a run on the pier called We Reinvent the Circus. In 2009, the group returned to the pier for two anniversaries, their own 25th, and the pier’s 100th.

Did You Know? That though the Santa Monica Pier has long been noted (by many) as the western terminus for the famous Route 66, it just isn’t so? Route 66, aka U.S. Route 66, The Main Street of America, The Mother Road, and the Will Rogers Highway, dates to November 11, 1926 and originally ran from Chicago to downtown Los Angeles, a total of 2,448 miles. It was realigned in 1939 to end in Santa Monica at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Lincoln Boulevard (a segment of State Route 1). Although a Dedication Plaque for the Will Rogers Highway sits about a block away from the pier in Palisades Park—near the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Ocean Avenue—neither the intersection nor the pier was the true end of the famous road.

Did You Know?  That poaching for lobsters is an ongoing problem?

Hunting Fishy At The Pier —Undercover Busts Lobster Catchers In Santa Monica

SANTA MONICA—A typical balmy summer Saturday night at Santa Monica Pier—parents push babies in strollers, a casually dressed young couple listens to a folk-rock duo from Canada, fishermen line the railings, the Ferris wheel spins in the background. But the young couple are California Department of Fish and Game wardens, and some of the fishermen are snagging lobsters out of season.

One fisherman yanks up violently on his fishing pole. His terminal tackle consists of a sinker followed by a number of large treble hooks tied to the line. This is a snagging rig according to the wardens. Lobsters are out of season and snagging is an illegal method of take at any time.

DFG wardens Ronda Moore and Ryan Maki play the part of the young couple. They were classmates at the DFG’s warden-training academy two years ago. Moore has six pairs of handcuffs and a mini-Glock under her Windbreaker. Normally she patrols the Antelope Valley, but as warden resources are stretched thin, she and Maki, who patrols in Orange County, help out tonight. They also don’t look like game wardens, according to senior warden Jim Beckwith, who organized this operation.

“I like to work the city but like to get out of it, too,’” Moore says. She grew up a country girl in Woodland, near Sacramento. Moore says she hunted and fished all her life, so when she decided on a job in law enforcement, becoming a game warden was a natural choice. “We do it all,’” she says. “Every day is different.’”

According to Beckwith, who has patrolled the Santa Monica Pier for many years, sometimes the snagging operations can be quite sophisticated, with one person snagging the bugs, another helping land them, and a runner to dispose of the evidence. “Once I found lobsters in a baby stroller,’” Beckwith says. “I reached in expecting to find the lobsters and touched a baby’s leg. They had two lobsters in with the kid.”

Tonight, Beckwith sees a fisherman make a big set, reel in the line, then reach over and slip something into a paper bag. The wardens move in and check the bag. It contains a small male lobster.“It happens. You get caught,’” says the suspect, who was arrested, cited and released. He says he also landed six calico bass, all legal size. “It was a good night, but I should have gone home.’”

It’s not as good a night for the wardens. They cite only the one alleged snagger, although they manage to find several other illegal lobsters and toss them back into the water. The Canadian strums his guitar and sings a Rolling Stones classic for the audience: “You can’t always get what you want …’”

This applies to the fishermen, too. “It’s not that they’re not trying to snag lobsters,’” Beckwith says. “They’re just not very good at it.’

Bill Becher, Los Angeles Daily News, September 5, 2002

History Note. The first local pier was built in the early 1870s in an area called the Shoo-Fly Landing. The pier was built as a loading point for asphaltum (tar) from the inland La Brea pits and of course the pier became the Shoo-Fly Pier. It was located just a few hundred yards south of today’s Municipal Pier.

One Response

  1. Santa Monica brings back some good memories, especially when I would go with my younger nephew fishing under the restaurant at the end. Always caught something, even if the day sucked for other fishermen. Under the Mariasol, I have caught my fair share of black, walleye, shiner( not common) and rainbow perch alongside sargo, black croaker, sand and calico bass. Have also caught Bonito, mackerel, halibut, turbot, sharks and rays, and the odd eel or octopus and crabs. That pier has a lot depending on the season, though I have had some good luck with Corbina and yellowfin croakers on the north side in front of the arcade facing the breaker waves. Sand crabs and mussels are key. If you fish the middle part of the pier under the pilings on either north or south sides in the spring, one can get some solid sargo action off mussels, bloodworms, or ghost shrimp.

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